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Rose of Glenkerry

CharactersRose of Glenkerry is an engrossing mystery/romance set in County Wicklow, Ireland. It’s a fast-moving story that carries readers from the busy streets of Dublin to a tidy Wicklow village to a remote lough where the book’s mystery begins to unfold. The central characters, young adults just embarking on careers, are endearing for their courage, vulnerability, and self-deprecating humour.

Twenty-one-year-old Cary McGurk is about to graduate from a Dublin university with hopes of pursuing a career in print journalism. He has demonstrated talent as a writer, but he is also his own severest critic, regarding both his career prospects and his would-be romantic relationships.

In the first chapter Cary finds his dual anxieties on a collision course. A few days before graduation, classmate and friend Siobhan Sullivan, a hard-driving, career-oriented American, drops a bombshell. She has just landed the job of her dreams in London. Why, she asks, doesn’t Cary move with her and share a flat in London? A two-bedroom flat, of course–they are, as she says, just mates–although Cary is secretly of two minds on that question.

But suddenly all Cary’s plans are thrown into turmoil. A family crisis takes him back to his hometown, Glenkerry, in County Wicklow. There he meets up with an old friend, Rosie O’Malley. Rosie’s story has always been a sad one–an air of melancholy seems to drape around her like a shroud–and now it seems history is repeating itself. Her mother has disappeared, and Rosie is desperate to locate her. Cary offers to help, enlisting another schoolmate, Garda Del Samuels, to unravel the mystery of the disappearance of Mary O’Malley. 

Throughout the book the characters share bits of their internal conversations, sometimes touching, sometimes hilarious. “You’ve set out on the sea of life,” Cary tells himself after graduation, “smack into a bloody fog bank.” As he watches Siobhan depart for London, he confesses, “Lonely with her, mate, lonely without her.” And their dialogue is often good for some hearty laughs as well. At one point Rosie warns Cary not to get on her wrong side, reminding him that she is trained in Taekwondo. “I can throw a mean kick when necessary,” she tells him. “My advice–whenever I’m around, protect your crotch, mate.”

Besides the disappearance of her mother, Rosie harbours another mystery of a more intimate nature. Back in secondary school, just as their friendship was evolving into something more serious, Rosie withdrew without explanation, leaving Cary disappointed and hurt. Now that things are heating up between them once again, Rosie must make a difficult decision. In a night of no turning back, she tells all. But when Cary knows her secret, she wonders, will he abandon her as she once did him?

The older generation of Glenkerry faces its own trials as well. When Cary’s mother Catherine and friend Gloria Hennessy enlist the assistance of Cary, Rosie, and Del in a fight to save their town from a proposed “Monster Mall,” they confess that their generation never dared stand up to the powers that be in the old Ireland. “We allowed ourselves to be bullied and cowed by those in authority,” explains Gloria. “We learned a sad lesson, a lesson I hope and pray Ireland never forgets. And you and your generation, you give us hope.”

A riveting story line, enchanting setting, and unforgettable characters combine to make this a thoroughly satisfying read for young and old alike. Rose of Glenkerry–mystery, romance, and humour, set against the stunning backdrop of Ireland’s incomparable County Wicklow. 

Rose of Glenkerry

ROSE OF GLENKERRY: A County Wicklow Mystery by Robert T. McMaster, Unquomonk Press, 2022. Both paperback and eBook editions are now available. Click here to find out how to get the book.




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